TADA’s Education Coordinator, Dave Fraser, is traveling across Ontario to bring dealers, students and educators together.
The 2016-17 school year marks the third full school year the TADA will be running our Career Start Education Program. I’m very pleased with the response we’ve had, getting prepared for this year. Even before everyone went back to school, the TADA’s Education Coordinator, Dave Fraser, already had 18 school presentations and information sessions booked for the fall alone. That’s as many as we did in the first full year of the program!
The word is spreading all over Ontario that dealers need to invest the time and effort to generate interest in the auto industry in the minds of students, their future employees, and it’s working.
“I’ve been optimistic over the first two years of the program,” Fraser says, “but this year, I have the feeling that we’re going to have a solid program, throughout the year. We’re still doing a lot of outreach, but it’s starting to grow organically, and we’re really pleased with the results.”
As in years past, the TADA is continuing our emphasis on college and university career fairs on behalf of our dealers, and whenever possible, we’re attending with dealers. “Career fairs are still a bit of a foreign concept to some dealers,” Fraser says, “but I think we’re making progress. We’re putting them on the front lines in front of students looking for either a co-op position, an apprenticeship, or even a fulltime position when they graduate.”
Areas of focus
This year, Fraser is focusing his efforts on three key areas of Ontario. The goal is to develop relationships in the parts of the province that have been underserved thus far-the areas that haven’t engaged that much since the TADA went from representing Toronto dealers, to representing Ontario’s dealers.
One of the areas we’re focusing on is Ottawa. There’s an active dealer group in the capital region, they have an auto show in Ottawa, but there’s limited engagement between industry and education. So we really want to build that up this year and develop it as a key market in Ontario.
The second area is northern Ontario, which poses a significant challenge, simply because of the geography. You sometimes have hundreds of kilometers of travel between schools. However, we’ve had some successful meetings and presentations with school boards up there as well as a number of colleges in the area.
The third area is London through to Sarnia, where there are a lot of non-urban dealers who are faced with an even bigger challenge than the rest of our dealer members. Young people are graduating and moving away. “We’re working with dealers and educators on strategies that will get the young people interested in staying in the area because there’s valuable employment potential there for them,” Fraser explains.
Another key area of concern is the curriculum being taught in Ontario schools. “Through ongoing collaboration with colleges, we’re increasing the number of advisory committees we’re part of so that the industry is getting a more equitable voice in shaping the programs that college students, in particular, are exposed to,” Fraser says. “I think it’s important for industry to have a voice in what the students are learning if we want to get them interested in a career in this industry. We want to make sure everything they’re being taught is current and applicable. We don’t want them learning on 25-year-old engines and non-existent carburetors.”
Having met with many dealers across the province, Fraser knows they’re happy to lend a hand. “Most dealers are very eager to help. They just don’t know where to start. So we’ve been identifying where those potential connection opportunities are, and now we’re growing at a rate and at a pace where it’s becoming much more natural to introduce those opportunities to dealers.”
Dealers are getting used to the idea that the TADA has an education program and not just a job-posting site (CarsAndJobs.com). “We’ve been working hard to let dealers know that this is a more rounded education program, and that it’s not simply about posting jobs,” Fraser says. “It’s about getting dealers to career events, creating networking opportunities with students, and responding to what dealers feel are key issues. It’s going to be a busy year.”